We’re living in a different time when there are multiple definitions regarding what constitutes a school shooting. The harsh reality that the term has become a staple in our American fabric isn’t as harmful to our reputation as it is to our children.
In terms of a school shooting where people actually got hurt intentionally and by other parameters, we have endured eight of these disasters in just a couple of months. Why so many all of a sudden, with locations spreading across the United States? Most importantly, why aren’t we talking about them?
With the most recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Miami suburb of Parkland, it’s become evident that these happenings are usually swept under the rug of relevancy. If not for the courageous voices of the students taking on the government, this would have just been another drop in the bucket. It’s no secret that our government values the right to bear arms over the lives of children, but why have we become complacent in that? Why isn’t there more coverage from the media showcasing this? The tragedy of 9/11 showed us that we are a nation that neither forgives or forgets, but how soon we forgot the babies at Sandy Hook. How soon we forgot Columbine, the school shooting that changed the world as we know it. Gun control in other countries is so much more advanced in that these are incidents that don’t even occur. In the land of the free, how can we ever really be free when we aren’t ever safe?
In a time where social media reigns and begets immortality, there’s a fear that there will be more like what we’ve seen. Copycats yearn for the notoriety that comes with being a mass killer. It’s painful to watch the news when these events occur and see these killers being described as ‘loners’ who were abused and alienated from their peers. Though those are unfortunate circumstances, it breeds the belief that these are acceptable reasons to take multiple lives.
Mental illness is far more prevalent than we could ever know due to the lack of resources available for most people who suffer from it. With these narratives spun by the media, the idea of mental illness becomes synonymous with homicidal, self-harming, etc when this is not even close to reality. Yes, some of these murderers suffer from PTSD and other forms of mental illness but they can also just be horrible beings. It’s possible to be both.
And it is indeed possible to just be a terrible person that wanted to see destruction and end lives with no remorse. What about the students who survive these attacks? What is done for them to heal and move on peacefully? Who can blame them for also picking up a gun to protect themselves? The cycle keeps going and with everyone pointing a gun at everyone else, we’re all in danger. Imagine being 15 years old and seeing your friend shot dead in front of you. No midterm or final exam can compete with that kind of pain. That pain can drive you to a madness that could either drive you to become paranoid and wanting a firearm for yourself, or can develop a fear of weapons entirely. Neither is a healthy existence and the media needs to put more focus on the healing, and less on if the killer liked cheese on his Whopper.
This is not to make light of a very delicate and serious conversation, but the media and our government have become a joke. It’s evident that our safety is not a priority, no matter your age. Whether a kindergartner or a father of three, this country has shown you have two options: kill or be killed. Arm yourselves, they said. Protect your family, they said. But who’s protecting my children when they’re sent to what’s supposed to be the safest place for them? And when the carnage begins, who is making sure it doesn’t happen to the next child? Eight school shootings in just under eight weeks is an atrocity and not to be taken lightly at all. Unfortunately, change only occurs from great tragedy. How many more tragedies will we have before change is born? Only time will tell.